The Recorded Music Industry: Crisis Or Opportunity


危機 "When written in Chinese, the word "crisis" is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity."  -  John F. Kennedy

The recorded music industry has been in crisis for more than 5 years. Instead of trying to "fix it", wouldn't both music and the industry be better served if we seized this opportunity to build something entirely new?

But what should the new music industry look like?  It should be more transparent and fair, to be sure. But what else?

At the Rethink Music Conference, I heard many innovative ideas struggling to find traction. Others arrive in my inbox daily. But which are worth our time? Finding those answers keeps me up at night.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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  1. Definitely opportunity. The new music industry should be run by musicians, not unlike a government run by the people. A new foundation built from the ground up, with the old players lending a hand whenever it’s needed. Idealistic, maybe, but one can always hope 🙂

  2. The Music Industry is what was. The Business of Making Music is what is and what will be. This is the perfect time to leave behind what no longer works. “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”

  3. it would help if they reduced the big paychecks of much of their top managements – worked at a major label in quite a small country until not so long ago. i really don’t want to be demagogic, but I can tell you: it was fantastic to see what expenses a country head (and that’s not even very high up in the int’l hierarchy when you come from a small country) claims – they’re paying salaries to the top people like in the good ol’ days that are simply not there any more. i can only imagine what people on the very top get for clinging to the past.

  4. Distruptive technology and innovative thinkers are shaking the bones of the dinosaurs such as the rights societies and the big labels all of whome, like gaddafi won’t go without a desperate fight.
    I just hope they don’t take the music industry down with them like Gaddafi seems to want to do.

  5. The government is run by government officials, not the people. But those officials cater to the people. If they don’t, there is revolt
    Right now, we are in a music industry revolt.
    I don’t believe it matters who runs the music industry, but the industry remains “for the fans” not “for the musicians” just like it should be.

  6. So tell us something we don’t know.
    Yeah, let’s get together and make the world a better place. Who wouldn’t want to?
    Except, the crisis stems from non-excludability and non-excludability begets non-payment. So unless we’re talking about opportunities to reintroduce excludability, we’re basically telling ourselves feel-good stories as we have been doing for years.
    Look where that has got us.

  7. Totally agree. THE FAN’S & CONSUMERS SUPPOROT is what keeps this industry going. But I also believe if we are trying to rebuild this system and make it WORK properly, it needs to show respect for EVERYONE because it caters to everybody who serves a valuble purpose in the “music” or “recording” industry. Things is, that kind of law can we establish that will prevent the executives or any other higher powers in the music industry doing any illegal businessess or gridlocking innovative ideas frim all angle?
    Now we need to work on the Radio industry while we’re at.

  8. Give me a yell when Youtube/iTunes/Google/Paramount/Sky/Fox/Disney/Entercom/Warner/BBC/Universalhave agreed with the basic principle (‘crisis’) and left their offices to tumbleweed and squatters and I’ll help bang out the new model…

  9. I think opportunity definitely. It is all becoming more segregated though, it looks as if eventually there will just be one major label that will survive and represent “mainstream” and probably get all the pop, big movie soundtracks etc and then a community of boutique labels representing all kinds of genres/scenes, that’s what would make fans get more involved anyway. Well whether or not that will really happen I don’t know but it would be nice!

  10. I just signed up as an affiliate on Amazon. After studying affiliate marketing, I was thinking how it could be applied to music.
    What if a band had an affiliate marketing program set up for their music. Fans sign up and become affiliates for the band. The fans then sell the digital music to their friends and make 15% of each sale.
    Fans get rewarded, and bands make money. Same goes with bloggers, podcasters, etc.
    Not sure if there’s enough incentive there, but I haven’t seen it done before.

  11. Technology has brought us options. There will be no one way. The industry will consist of many models as it does present day. Different models will work well for different artists and companies. The days of major corporations controlling the industry are no more. They will develop and adapt to the times, but technology will continue to evolve, ever-creating new models for everyone.
    We are gonna witness some great innovation within the music industry, as we are beginning to see.

  12. This actually was the crux of my submission to RETHINK MUSIC as I’ve been running my own business, and setting up my own channels to develop my artists for years.
    The bottom line is having your artist make money and keep his or her sanity. As long as the artist is doing work he loves and performing in front of people, it makes sense to develop his career just by working. The main difference is understanding that the elitist outlets that mainstream record labels get will ignore your act, even with fan pressure, until they suddenly realize your act is hip.
    You can put fans, who are good communicators or have music industry experience, to work. Reach out to government, charities, businesses, schools, fans both locally and internationally.
    I think it’s about having a great rolodex and knowing “It’s not what you know but who you know, and if you don’t know them, go out and meet ’em.”
    A break down of what I’ve been doing with Jann Klose, an acclaimed vocalist, is at this link. http://anneleightonmedia.blogspot.com/2011/03/two-major-announcements-on-jann-klose.html He’s developed a growing presence in North America to the point venue owners are willing to take chances on him.

  13. I disagree that it’s not for the musicians. Not all musicians are greedy egocentric whiners. Some of us LOVE doing this and do it for a living with all the hardship and heartache that comes with it. Giving away what I create will leave me homeless and unable to create. Do we want that? Fans & Artists need to collaborate and compromise with each other. Cutting out the middle man and dealing “peer to peer” with both sides getting what they need and want is the key.

  14. Well, isn’t this the concept of TupperWare parties? Aren’t it professional salespeople who stage these? How can amateurs a/k/a fans sell the same amount of units as professionals?
    Well, skip the last question. Most salespeople in record chain stores don’t know much about music.

  15. I m agree that This is only depend on fan’s& consumers but can u make the fan’s 7 consumers ?
    It only depend on your work ..
    which kind of services you provide to your consumers …
    If u provide good services then consumers will attract ..

  16. For my team (and a large VC putting it’s money where the business is) I see a new music ecosystem by connecting talented musicians still 100% in control of all their music (rights) with brands and businesses for licensing deals.
    Simple license deals where we bypass the performing rights and collecting societies, publishers, labels. Save the brand / client a lot of money while sharing more money with the artists.
    We need a talent pool of creative people who are looked after, supported and served. We need the online tools to search/find/license beautiful songs for commercial use and we need the legal framework to keep it simple but 100% legal.
    This is my future. This is what we believe in. Music is emotion, the internet is not going away (yes I spoke to large publishers hoping for this) and we have a job to do: facilitate talented artists with new business models.
    Who we are? Just follow the noise 😉
    Hessel van Oorschot

  17. water model is the best way to do.. i mean pay for what you use.. but this time paying for royalties etc. is hard.. who played how much time etc.?
    i can tell there will be no download in the future.. streaming is the only way. there should be mp3 players only stream online.. just like cellphones.. or cellphones/internet connection should be unlimited..
    but also one of my side tells, this new generation has no music collecting habits.. they dont wanna pay for music.. they wanna buy credits for their cells to speak with their girlfriends instead of buying a single/album..
    because they dont dream..
    another option is to create more demand for vinyl usage..its hard to copy and good quality..
    and most of the youth give interest because it seems nostalgic.. on the otherhand, we have usb turntables all around.. its cheap. easy to use..
    even you copy the tracks for yourself you buy the record anyway…
    the big crisis is, the record label executives lost their tastes.. only the indie ones has nothing to fear and put it out..
    a&r system must change..
    these are some of the issues that come to my mind..

  18. WE ALL MUST PUSH THROUGH THE “CRISIS” IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY. IT’S A NEW AGE OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY AND IT’S ALOT OF PROMISING OPPORTUNITY TO THOSE WHO RECOGNIZE THE CHANGE AND GET ON THE WAVE. I’m an artist and I’m not focused on the current limbo of the industry. I see it as a gold mine for upcoming artists. It’s about to be fresh new ideas and innovative thinkers will capitalize on the market and be catapulted into being the leaders of the New Industry. Read this article about me in this magazine. Go To http://tiny.cc/MeritMag #TheGrindContinues

  19. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9wa8UC-XrE
    Check out my True Story Song called “TALENT ON LOAN”.
    ALSO…Whatever happened to Musical Dissent in this Country. GW BUSH somehow completely shut it down when he attacked the wrong Country after 9-11..Amazing how they did that…It started witht he attack on The Dixie Chicks….Gov in bed with Large Corps that run the industry…..We need a Revolt of the Songwriters.
    So much to write about but NO Outlet….Has anybody listened to Country Music Lately…SO Vanilla…ugh. Even Toby Keith’s new song American Made is SO VANILLA. He had a good idea but……the words are just jingoistic and tepid words…”WHERE ARE WE”. Barry David Butler bdbutler@centurylink.net

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